Ready or not, back-to-school season is here! As you prepare your lessons, it’s important to make time to set clear expectations, build relationships, and establish a sense of community. Picture books are a great tool for helping to create a warm and caring atmosphere to last the whole year. When you pair a book with a memorable craft or activity, you can bring the stories and messages to life. Today I’m sharing my favorite back-to-school books and activities.
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My Favorite Back-to-School Books and Activities
Here are 10 writing crafts and directed drawings to pair with my favorite back-to-school books.
The Invisible Boy
About the Book: Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody in class ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.
Book Activity: This directed drawing activity allows students to make a picture of Justin. By adding wax paper or tissue paper on top of their drawing, students match the mood in the book’s illustrations. Alternatively, you could have students do a self-portrait.
About the Book: It was the perfect summer. That is, until Jeremy Ross moved into the house down the street and became neighborhood enemy number one. Luckily Dad had a surefire way to get rid of enemies: Enemy Pie. But part of the secret recipe is spending an entire day playing with the enemy!
Book Activity: In the story, Dad makes a special enemy pie that turns out to be more delicious than the reader expected. Students can create a recipe for Friendship Pie and then tuck their recipe card inside the pie craft.
Do Unto Otters
About the Book: Mr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are Otters. OTTERS! But he doesn’t know anything about otters. Will they get along? Will they be friends? Just treat otters the same way you’d like them to treat you, advises Mr. Owl.
Book Activity: There are two craft options for this book: otter or Mr. Rabbit. The craft can stand alone, but it can also be added to a piece of writing about what the golden rule means or what it means to have good manners.
A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue
About the Book: No one likes “Josh the Tattler” because he tattles way too much. He tattles on his classmates, his brother, and even his dog! But one night Josh wakes up to find that his tongue is very long, yellow, covered in bright purple spots, and Itchy, Itchy, Scratchy, Scratchy… Will a bad case of Tattle Tongue teach him a lesson?
Book Activity: After creating a craft that looks like them, students can add their craft to a piece of writing. They can decorate a tongue to look like the one from the book, or keep it pink. The tongue can also be rolled up for an extra layer of fun!
School’s First Day of School
About the Book: It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him? The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters.
Book Activity: After reading the story, students can recreate the school from the book. Inside, students can share their feelings about the first day of school, tell what they love about their own school, etc.
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun
About the Book: Lucy has big hair, eats fun foods and is teased by a boy named Ralph at school because she is different. She tries to be brave but she wishes the teasing would stop. What should I do? she asks herself over and over. Lucy’s Papa Gino reminds her to do the right thing and treat people with kindness. So when Ralph gets stuck on the playground and needs help, will Lucy use this chance to teach Ralph a lesson? Or will she have the courage to be true to herself and make the right choice with an act of kindness?
Book Activity: Having the courage to be yourself is tricky for many people. Inside this writing craft, students share one way they show courage in their everyday life.
My Mouth is a Volcano
About the Book: Louis always interrupts! All of his thoughts are very important to him, and when he has something to say, his words rumble and grumble in his tummy, they wiggle and jiggle on his tongue and then they push on his teeth, right before he ERUPTS (or interrupts). His mouth is a volcano! But when others begin to interrupt Louis, he learns how to respectfully wait for his turn to talk.
Book Activity: Learning when it’s okay to interrupt is a tough concept for kids. After brainstorming as a class, students can add one example to their volcano mouth craft.
About the Book: Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd. One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle. When he’s at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky.
Book Activity: Students can bring their own inner nerdy birdy to life with this writing craft. Then have students share their ideas of what it means to include others.
The Sandwich Swap
About the Book: Lily and Salma are best friends. They like doing all the same things, and they always eat lunch together. Lily eats peanut butter and Salma eats hummus-but what’s that between friends? It turns out, a lot. Before they know it, a food fight breaks out. Can Lily and Salma put aside their differences? Or will a sandwich come between them?
Book Activity: This sandwich craft can be used to extend the book in a variety of ways. In this example, each sandwich ingredient has been used with a different writing prompt. When pieced together, students demonstrate their feelings about the story as a whole.
The Recess Queen
About the Book: Mean Jean was Recess Queen and nobody said any different. Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung. They didn’t kick until Mean Jean kicked. Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced. If kids ever crossed her, she’d push ’em and smoosh ’em lollapaloosh ’em, hammer ’em, slammer ’em kitz and kajammer ’em. Until a new kid came to school!
Book Activity: If you’re experiencing playground problems, it’s time to talk about expectations and let students become Recess Royalty. Students can share one way to solve a common conflict on the playground.
You can find even more book activities here.
You might also enjoy these FREE back-to-school resources:
- All Are Welcome Discussion Questions
- Your Name is a Song Activities
- A Letter From Your Teacher on the First Day of School Writing Craft
- Rude Cakes Writing Craft
I hope you have a great school year!